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Motivating patients to exercise: translating high blood pressure into equivalent risk of inactivity

Li, Chu-Shiua,b; Liu, Chwen-Chic; Tsai, Min-Kuangd; Tai, Ya-Pingd; Wai, Jackson Pui Mane; Tsao, Chwen-Kengf; Wen, Chi-Pangd,g

doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000000392

Objective: Even with the 2008 physical activity guidelines for Americans and the strong epidemiological evidence, physicians are not routinely emphasizing the importance of exercise. We try to explore an innovative way to communicate the benefits of physical activity in a term familiar to patients.

Methods and results: A cohort of 470 163 adults from a medical screening program in Taiwan were recruited between 1994 and 2008. Their vital status was followed up by matching with the National Death File. Individuals were classified as ‘inactive’, ‘low active’, or ‘fully active’, with ‘fully active’ meeting the current exercise recommendation of 150 min per week or more. Cox proportional model was used to calculate the hazard ratio. More than one-half of the cohort was inactive (54%), with one-quarter fully active (24%). One in seven was hypertensive (14%), defined as SBP at least 140 mmHg. Among the hypertensive individuals, mortality risks were increased by 37% for the inactive. Inactive individuals had higher all-cause mortality than active ones across all blood pressure (BP) levels. At 110–119 mmHg, the inactive had a risk as high as the risk at 155 mmHg, an increased mortality risk equivalent to a risk of BP increase of 41.2 mmHg.

Conclusion: The mortality risk of being inactive was equivalent to an increase of around 40 mmHg in SBP or 20 mmHg in DBP, a number relevant to hypertensive patients. Appreciating this relationship may convince the inactive to start exercising, a behavior as important as controlling BP.

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aDepartment of Risk Management and Insurance, National Kaohsiung First University of Science and Technology

bDepartment of International Business, College of Management, Asia University

cDepartment of Risk Management and Insurance, Feng Chia University, Taichung

dInstitute of Population Health Sciences, National Health Research Institutes, Zhunan

eInstitute of Sports Science, National Taiwan Sport University, Taoyuan

fMJ Health Management Institution, Taipei

gChina Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan

Correspondence to Chi-Pang Wen, Institute of Population Health Sciences, National Health Research Institutes, 35 Keyen Road, Zhunan, Miaoli County 350, Taiwan. E-mail:

Abbreviations: BP, blood pressure; CVD, cardiovascular disease; LTPA, leisure time physical activity; MET, metabolic equivalent value

Received 9 March, 2014

Revised 20 August, 2014

Accepted 20 August, 2014

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